Crikey Says

Feb 29, 2012

Labor infighting and the spoils of office

The Labor infighting over the Senate vacancy created by the departure of Mark Arbib demonstrates why the party's problems run far deeper than Kevin Rudd and his alleged destabilisation.

The Labor infighting over the Senate vacancy created by the departure of Mark Arbib demonstrates why the party's problems run far deeper than Kevin Rudd and his alleged destabilisation. Julia Gillard's failure to get her way on bringing Bob Carr to Canberra has been reported and analysed as another Gillard failure, this time against the very party machine that gave her such a strong victory on Monday. But it also serves to demonstrate how focused Labor is internally on the division of spoils of office, which has become the raison d'être of Labor's factions -- recall how much resentment there was towards Kevin Rudd's policy of offering positions to former Coalition figures. Carr would have bolstered Labor's frontbench, and enabled the government to tap the expertise of a veteran politician who knew how to win elections -- something in desperately short supply in the government currently. He would also have made a quality foreign minister -- one refreshingly free of the groupthink that marks DFAT's view of the world and Australia's place in it. That this was stymied because of resentment over such a plum position being handed to an "outsider" says far more about the modern Labor Party than about Julia Gillard's leadership.

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34 thoughts on “Labor infighting and the spoils of office

  1. Gavin Moodie

    I agree.

    Former Australian diplomat Bruce Haigh also thinks Carr would be a good foreign minister. Incidentally, he also thinks Rudd was a poor foreign minister: too much concerned with the northern hemisphere and too little interested in Asia which matters much more to Australia. These and other interesting comments were on Radio National breakfast on Wednesday 29 February 2012 at 7:39 am.

  2. Peter Ormonde

    Crikes …

    I’d be interested in seeing your basis for accepting the Shanahan assertion that Gillard had personally anointed Carr – even to the point of airports and plane tickets – only to be rolled. Shanahan’s piece had the usual “sources close to”… one Cabinet Minister told me…. but no names, no pack-drill. Just take him on trust. Again?

    You really think Gillard does these things without the odd phone call with her mates and doing the numbers a bit? My goodness you think she’s adopted the “Rudd persona” as well as the “Rudd Agenda”?

    Is there any suggestion of evidence – any suggestion that anyone at all had a conversation with Shanahan – that a ticket was bought?

    Seeing as you are spreading the assertion as fact – be interested in your evidence. Or is it just “Denis told us”. Must be true.

  3. drovers cat

    “Julia Gillard’s failure to get her way on bringing Bob Carr to Canberra has been reported and analysed as another Gillard failure … ,” you say – and there’s the rub.
    You should have stopped after “has been reported and analysed” because from there on, it’s a media view, borrowed prima facie but you are ready to buy into it there and then.
    That’s what’s wrong with all this, espcially if the Shenanigan-ahan name is invoked.
    As far as I am concerned, if a News Ltd political viewpoint is taken as mainstream, it’s suss. That’s a view not thrust upon the company by me, it’s a view borne of its own admission it is pro-Coalition. For me, and I am sure many others News Ltd some time ago dealt itself out of any serious political commentary because by its own publically announced choice it had taken sides.
    Perhaps you (Bernard?) are looking to follow in your predecessor Christian’s footsteps; meanwhile, don’t expect the likes of put any weight behind any of your political utterings as a result of this offering.
    For the record, Bob Carr in my view would have been a major asset to the ALP frontbench.

  4. Mark from Melbourne

    Flights of fantasy again Crikey??? As far as I heard/read, Bob Carr declined an offer from NSW Labour – how does that translate into a failure for Gillard?

  5. FairSuckOfTheSav

    Hold your horses Crikey. You state “Labor infighting over … the departure of Mark Arbib” and “Gillard’s failure to get her way” as if they are indisputable facts. These are highly emotive terms and highly subjective. Unless and until you can provide the evidence to back up such claims you would be doing your paying subscribers and other readers a service to be a bit more balanced.

    Of course, I don’t know what has actually happened within the Labor Party but all I have read so far suggests only that Ms Gillard rang Carr to canvass the possibility of a role and that, umm, some others in the party also had a view on who should fulfill the role. Unless I’m missing something, I could have sworn that was the way things are supposed to work. In any case, it’s a long way short of infighting and failure to get your way. I am happy for my (sometimes beloved) Crikey to stick it’s neck out and have an opinion but I don’t expect it to be involved in media beat ups.

  6. Delerious

    No, no, no it does say something about Gillard’s leadership. It is says she doesn’t lead but takes direction. This is reflected in her capability in selling policies. Also extremely poor.

  7. Holden Back

    Psst- pass it on- I heard that Roving Editor Paul Kelly was offered the Foreign Minister position, and Denis Shenahan the Deputy Treasurer ( he can make figures do anything!).

  8. pertina1

    Bruce Haig thinks so too, so it must be so. Really?

    I am puzzled why the PM should need an ex-politician whose most noteworthy achievement was in resigning his premiership before a decade of mismanagement caught up with him. A merchant of spin who lacked the courage to take on Sussex Street, an obsessive deficit hawk who failed dismally to invest in NSWs future. True, he knew how to win elections but if that’s Bernards yardstick perhaps she should ask Bob Hawke to come back, now that Mr Carr has reportedly turned this offer down.

    The real story must surely be that Ms Gillard has yet again demonstrated her lack of judgement (if this is in fact true that she wanted Mr Carr)

    Bruce Keane had been a key reason why I’ve continued to be a Crikey subscriber but sadly he seems to have lost his edge recently. Please send him on a long vacation.

  9. Peter Ormonde

    Hi there, advocates of accountable responsible journalism with extra source:

    What’s the difference between this and your opening par:

    “Unsourced reports of alleged Labor infighting over the Senate vacancy created by the departure of Mark Arbib demonstrates why the party’s problems run far deeper than Kevin Rudd and his destabilisation.”

    All I’ve done is removed the “alleged” from “Rudd’s alleged destabilisation”… and explained the origins and status of the “infighting” assertions. Just for accuracy. Once those allegations are revealed as unsubstantiated … your story and analysis falls flat on it’s arse.

    How to slant a story folks.

  10. Gavin Moodie

    Perhaps if you listened to what he said you may be informed by his reasons.

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